NISKAYUNA — The Hanks will have a family reunion of sorts this week in Louisville.
Paul and Susie Hanks have traveled tens of thousands of miles for more than a decade to watch their three daughters play field hockey. Their sojourn started with Megan, now 28, who played for Niskayuna. It continued with Jenn, who patrolled the backline for Nisky, the ADK field hockey club and then Skidmore, where she had an All-American career that ended in 2015.
And it continues with Carrie, a Niskayuna/ADK alum, U.S. developmental team member and senior at Maryland, where this season she was second-team all-Big Ten.
There have been trips to Canada and California, Texas and Florida, Michigan and a whole bunch of other points in between. Trips in the fall, in the winter, in the spring and summer. Travel-games-travel has been the rhythm of the sports parents' lives.
In the time Carrie was a freshman and sophomore and Jenn was an upperclassman, the parents would regularly check out a Skidmore game in Saratoga Springs on a fall Saturday, then hop right in their car to head to a Maryland game down south or in the Midwest on Sunday.
“That was the norm for the two years they overlapped,” Paul Hanks said.
Not this weekend. Jenn and Carrie Hanks both have games Friday — both in the NCAA field hockey final four. And thanks to a change this year that placed all three NCAA divisions at the same site — Louisville — the traveling got a whole lot easier.
Jenn Hanks is now an assistant coach at Division III Franklin & Marshall, which is making its first final four appearance since 1983. It takes on Middlebury at 7 p.m.
On another nearby field, at 4:45 p.m., Division I Maryland faces a rematch with Big Ten rival Michigan.
“It’s a strange kind of bit of coincidence,” said Jenn Hanks, who played in the Division III final four for Skidmore in 2013. “It’s just so lucky all of the finals are being played at Louisville. And in Carrie's senior year? What are the chances?”
Carrie Hanks plans to continue her career after college with the U.S. program and then possibly a club team in Europe. “I definitely don’t want to be done, because I’ve committed so much time, and it’s such a passion,” said the defender named to the All-Big Ten Tournament team.
That said, the senior has thought about a chapter coming to a close.
“Especially the past couple of weeks,” said Hanks, who started playing in seventh grade. “You want to think it’s just another game. You don’t want to put too much emotion into it. But you think of all the games, starting in Niskayuna. Trips to Shen. To Saratoga. Travel with [ADK] club team. …”
Tens of thousands of miles. Sometimes the sisters traveled together, such as with ADK, most times apart. They will meet again at a pre-game banquet for all the teams to be held in Louisville. And one time more: Several teams in the same general geographic vicinity have banded together to charter a flight Wednesday to Kentucky. Among them: Franklin & Marshall and Maryland.
“It’s crazy how this stuff happens,” Jenn Hanks said.
Especially on the long road.